CRISPR Obliterates Coronavirus in the Lab



It's mind-boggling that something so small, something that we can't even see, is causing so much havoc around the world. Life has pretty much come to a standstill because of the coronavirus! Shops, schools, and companies have all been closed down in most parts of the world and people are self-isolating to prevent the virus from spreading to the most vulnerable people in the population.


The virus first emerged in December 2019 in the Hubei province of China and has since spread all over the world. The origins of coronavirus have been widely speculated, but bats have been attributed as the coronavirus outbreak origin. Cases of coronavirus in China have significantly dropped so it seems as though things will slowly go back to normal over there. The symptoms of coronavirus include respiratory difficulties, fever, and cough, further complications that can occur are pneumonia, kidney problems, and even death. The WHO has suggested, regularly washing hands, keeping a distance from those coughing or sneezing, and not touching your face, as a way to reduce the spread of coronavirus.


Scientists have been developing a CRISPR-based strategy to fight the coronavirus! The technology that has been developed is called PAC-MAN (Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in huMAN cells). As coronavirus is an RNA based virus, a technique that targets the viral RNA was required. Therefore, scientists used Cas13 which targets RNA instead of DNA. Then a specific guide RNA was used to find the coronavirus sequences, and these sequences were chopped up by Cas13, thereby deactivating the virus. As the study showed, PAC-MAN can successfully degrade SARS-COV-2 sequences in epithelial cells derived from human lungs.


This research is amazing but was only conducted in human cells and it hasn't been used in a human. Therefore, thorough research would need to be done, to see whether this technology would even be feasible in the human body.


Reference

1.https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.991307v1.full.pdf

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